Monday, July 4, 2016



This is an addendum to which discussed the deciphered Bronze Age glosses of 

sãgaṛh 'fortification', koṭṭa 'fortified settlement', koṭiya ʻsailing vessel dhow' signified on Indus Script inscriptions. Rebus for  sãghāṛɔ 'lathe'. ‘brazier’ -- a recurrent hieroglyph-multiplex -- could be M. sãgaḍ  m.f. ʻ float made of two canoes joined together ʼ (LM 417 compares saggarai at Limurike in the Periplus, Tam. śaṅgaḍam, Tu. jaṅgala ʻ double -- canoe ʼ) Si. san̆gaḷa ʻ pair ʼ, han̆guḷaan̆g° ʻ double canoe, raft ʼ(CDIAL 12859) 

Similarly, koṭiya 'sailing vessel' may be signified by the hieroglyph of 'one-horned young bull'కోడియ (p. 326) kōḍiya Same as కోడె.   కోడె (p. 326) kōḍe kōḍe. [Tel.] n. A bullcalf. కోడెదూడ. A young bull. కాడిమరపదగినదూడ. Plumpness, prime. తరుణము. జోడుకోడయలు a pair of bullocks. కోడె adj. Young. కోడెత్రాచు a young snake, one in its prime. "కోడెనాగముం బలుగుల రేడుతన్ని కొని పోవుతెరంగు" రామా. vi. కోడెకాడు kōḍe-kāḍu. n. A young man. పడుచువాడు. A lover విటుడు. 13). The most frequently occurring hieroglyph on Indus Script corpora is a one-horned young bull. It is possible this hieroglyph signifies koṭiya ʻsailing vessel dhow'. If so, most of the inscriptions of Indus Script Corpora may denote cargo shipped by seafaring merchants of Meluhha. 

Periplus mentions kotumba to pilot merchant vessels into Bharuch. This kotumba (kottymba) may be cognate with kotia dhow, shipping vessel of ancient India. kotia handle upto 200 tons of cargo.
Modern Omani dhow. (Source: Dionisius A.Agius, 2012, Seafaring in the Arabian Gulf and Oman, Routledge). 

Variant spellings appear in texts: kotia, cotia,kUtiyya (pl. kawAti or kUtiyyAt) – a Kuwait and Bhraini ocean-going vessel with features similar to baghla and ghanja. Kotia is relatedto the Arabic root qit’a (name of a ship); q.t. means ‘to cross (a river or an ocean).”The sambuk, though of Arab origin, is often constructed in boat-building yards on the west coast of India, an important centre being at Beypore, south of Calicut on the mouth of the river Chaiyar. In addition to the sambuk, various watercraft, such as the padava, kotia, pattemar, etc., were also built at this centre.” (Himanshu Prabha Ray, 2003, The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia, Cambridge University Press, p.67). Hornell nots that the baghla and the gunja are the Arab forms of the Indian kotia, the Arab bum the counterpart of the Indian dhangi and nauri, while the Indian batel represents the Arab sambuk (J. Hornell 1920, The origins and significance of Indian boat designs,Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta,  repr. 1970 by South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies, Trivandrum.)
Names of important boat types and some socio-economic cultural and ecological factors mentioned by James Hornell, 1920 (After Map 3.1 in Fishing boat designs in India)

See: Waruno Mahdi, 2013, Origins of southeast Asian shipping and maritime communication across the Indian Ocean, in: Gwyn Campbell ed. Early exchange between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World, Palgrave.

Object ID: AAE0156 Overall: 413 x 1382 x 344 mm

Scale: Unknown. A model of an Indian kotia dhow made entirely in wood with metal and organic material fittings. The hull is made plank-on-frame and varnished and has a lead keel. The stempost is very deep and shallow terminating in a parrots head figurehead with the beak pointing towards the stern. There are reliefs of two sea creatures carved on either side of the stempost and, at the front of the stempost, is a small carving of a birds head. The main deck has two hatches, the forward one is rectangular in shape with two covers, the rearmost one is triangular and has four covers. The mainmast is positioned just forward of amidships and provision for it is at the front of the triangular cargo hatch. Main deck fittings include a grapnel, stockless anchor, a capstan with six bars and a short companion ladder that provides access to the upper deck. The mainsail is latrine rigged. The mizzen mast is positioned on the upper deck and is also latrine rigged. Forward of the mizzen mast is a six bar capstan and aft is a binnacle and a wheel that works the rudder. The port and starboard stern quarters each have two portholes which are glazed and above them is decorative rope detail that extends to the stern. The stern is decoratively carved and a pair of stern mounted davits stow a small workboat carved from a single piece of wood. A second workboat is stowed elsewhere on the model. The model is displayed on a pair of shaped crutches fixed to a rectangular baseboard with straight bevelled edges, the whole of which is painted black.

Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Materials: metal: brass; metal: copper; organic: cotton; wood

Birds shown on kotia stempost may compare with the birds shown on a bot of Mohenjo-daro prism tablet.
Shown together with oxhide ingots and two palm trees, it has been shown that the birds were karaDa 'aquatic bird' rebus: karaDa 'hard alloy' DhALa 'large ingot' with the phonetic determinant of tALa 'palm tree' dula 'pair' rebus: dul 'metal casting'. See decipherment of Indus Script inscription on the tablet at 

The boat was carrying cargo of oxhide ingots and hard alloys of ayakara 'metalsmith' (aya 'fish' rebus: ayas 'metal' PLUS karA 'crocodile' rebus: khAr 'blacksmith'). Two parts of hypertext on Side 3: On side 3 of the tablt, there are 8 hieroglyphic 'signs' signifying the nature of the metalwork involved for the cargo. This is a two part inscription.

Part 1 of the inscription from l.

कर्णक m. du. the two legs spread out AV. xx , 133 , 3 rebus: karNI 'helmsman, supercargo'. The hieroglyph of a standing person with legs spread out is thus a semantic determinant of the adjoining hieroglyph: rim of jar: karNika 'rim of jar' rebus: karNika 'scribe, account'. The next two hieroglyphs from the left are a pair of ingots: dhALako 'ingots' dula 'pair' rebus: dul 'cast metal'. Thus, cast ingots.

Part 2 of the inscription from l.
karNika 'rim of jar' rebus: karNika 'scribe, account'
ayo 'fish' rebus: aya 'iron' ayas 'metal'
kolom 'three' rebus: kolimi 'smithy, forge'
kolmo 'rice plant' rebus: kolimi 'smithy, forge' PLUS circumscript of oval: dhALko 'ingot'. Thus ingot for smithy/forge work.

Birds signified on Kotia stemposts may be compared with the bird shown on a seal from probably Knossos area dated to ca. 1600 BCE:

Type IV ship represented on a seal from unknown provenance (probably Knossos area) dated around 1600 BCE. It has a curved hull with bird symbol, pointed sterpost and ten parallel oblique lines, probable oars. Mast with yard and boom, sail surface delimited vertically by cut lunette-like lines, cross-hatching. Source: Greek age of bronze ships The bird coule be kanka 'heron'which also appearson Dong Son Bronze drums (madeusing cire perdue lost-wax technique of casting) kaṅká m. ʻ heron ʼ VS. [← Drav. T. Burrow TPS 1945, 87; onomat. Mayrhofer EWA i 137. Drav. influence certain in o of M. and Si.: Tam. Kan. Mal. kokku ʻ crane ʼ, Tu. korṅgu, Tel. koṅga, Kuvi koṅgi, Kui kohko]Pa. kaṅka -- m. ʻ heron ʼ, Pk. kaṁka -- m., S. kaṅgu m. ʻ crane, heron ʼ (→ Bal. kang); B. kã̄k ʻ heron ʼ, Or. kāṅka; G. kã̄kṛũ n. ʻ a partic. ravenous bird ʼ; -- with o from Drav.: M. kõkā m. ʻ heron ʼ; Si. kokā, pl. kokku ʻ various kinds of crane or heron ʼ, kekī ʻ female crane ʼ, kēki ʻ a species of crane, the paddy bird ʼ (ē?).(CDIAL 2595) Rebus: kanga, kangar 'brazier' (Kashmiri)
Flying birds on Dong Son Bronze Drums

 kanka 'heron'on Dong Son Bronze Drum tympanum.

Canoe from ethnographic boat model of an Indian kotias type dhow. Used in coastal and open waters, and as working vessels in the harbour at Porbandar (Bombay Province, N.W. India).

S. Kalyanaraman
Sarasvati Research Center
July 4, 2016

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